Share your coins depicting legendary Roman historical events

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gam3rBlake, Sep 26, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Note: This is NOT my coin. Unfortunately I don’t have any coins depicting what I’m asking for and I’m looking for some inspiration and to see what is out there.

    This story is considered legendary and most historians don’t consider it an actual historical fact. However it’s possible it was based on a real story of a Roman woman betraying Rome as all legends tend to have a grain of truth.

    Legend has it that Tarpeia was a Vestal Virgin who betrayed Rome to the Sabines after the “Rape of the Sabine Women”.

    The legend goes that while Rome was besieged by the Sabine king Titus Tatius, Tarpeia, daughter of the commander of the citadel, Spurius Tarpeius, approached the Sabine camp and offered them entry to the city in exchange for "what they bore on their left arms".

    Greedy for gold, she had meant their bracelets, but instead the Sabines threw their shields—carried on the left arm—upon her, crushing her to death in order to set an example, so that no faith might ever be kept with a traitor.

    Her body was then hurled from (or, according to some accounts, buried at) a steep cliff of the southern summit of the Capitoline Hill.

    The Sabines were however unable to conquer the Forum, its gates miraculously protected by boiling jets of water created by Janus.

    A unique detail that Livy adds is the suggestion that Tarpeia was not greedily looking for gold, but was trying to trick the Sabines into giving up their weapons once she let them in.

    Today I saw a coin I had never seen before with a reverse depicting Tarpeia having shields thrown on her and I think it looks pretty cool.

    It inspired me to want to see more coins depicting historical Roman events.

    Please share!
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Abduction of the Sabine Women.

    L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus. (89 B.C.)
    AR Denarius
    O: Bare head of King Tatius right, SABIN downward behind, TA in monogram before;
    R: Two Roman soldiers running left, each bearing a Sabine woman in his arms, L·TITVRI in ex.
    Crawford 344/1a,RSC I Tituria 2, Sydenham 698a, SRCV I 249
  4. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    This coin commemorates the capture of the Arverni king Bituitus, in 121 BC :D.
    2491170-003, AK Collection.jpg
  5. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    The most iconic has to be the twins Romulus and Remus being suckled by the she wolf...this isn't mine -
  6. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Nice one! Especially since it takes place right before the Tarpeia incident in my OP.

    I wonder if it would be possible to tell a (basic) history of the Roman Kingdom with just coins.
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Perhaps Roman legends about the Kingdom, but not actual history, given that almost nothing is known, not even which kings (if any) were real historical figures and which were fictional. Sort of like looking at a list of early Japanese emperors.
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  8. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Some examples of the great many Roman Republican coins believed to commemorate historical (or legendarily historical) events:

    Roman Republic, Anonymous [probably Caecilius Metellus Diadematus or Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus], AR Denarius 128 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right, wearing winged helmet, * [monogram for value: XVI asses] behind; otherwise anepigraphic / Rev. Pax or Juno driving biga galloping right, holding reins and long scepter in left hand and branch (olive or laurel) in right hand; elephant head under horses, facing right with trunk curving down, wearing bell dangling from neck; ROMA in exergue. Crawford 262/1, RSC I Caecilia 38 (ill.), BMCRR 1044, Sear RCV I 138, Sydenham 496. 18.5 mm., 3.89 g., 11 h.*

    Crawford 262 Caecilius Metullus Roma- biga & elephant head.jpg

    *One of only four anonymous Roman Republican denarii after ca. 154 BCE (see also Crawford 222/1, 287/1, & 350A/2), and the only one of the four that can be identified with near-certainty. See Crawford Vol. I at p. 287, explaining that the elephant head with dangling bell depicted on the reverse signals that the moneyer belonged to the Caecilii Metelli family, and recalls the victory of L. Caecilius Metellus, Cos. 251, over Hasdrubal at Panormus in 250 BCE, and the capture of Hasdrubal’s elephants. (See also the denarii depicting elephants or elephant heads issued by, e.g., M. Metellus Q.f. [127 BCE, Crawford 263/1a-1b], C. Caecilius Metullus Caprarius [125 BCE, Crawford 269/1]; Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius [81 BCE, Crawford 374/1]; and Q. Caecilius Metullus Pius Scipio [47-46 BCE, Crawford 459/1].) Therefore, it is generally accepted that this denarius was issued by either L. Caecilius Metellus Diadematus (Cos. 117), or L. Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus (Cos. 119), with the authorities seemingly preferring the former, given that his three brothers all held the moneyership. (Id.; see also Sear RCV I at p. 99; Harold B. Mattingly, “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in From Coins to History (2004), pp. 199-226 at p. 219 n. 75.)

    The uncertainty in identifying the goddess in the biga arises from the inability to identify definitively the branch she holds: an olive branch would mean that the goddess is Pax, and a laurel branch would mean that she is Juno Regina. (See Crawford at p. 287.) Grueber (in BMCRR) and Seaby (in RSC) identify the goddess as Pax; Crawford and Sear note both possible identifications.

    Roman Republic, M. Caecilius Q.f. Metelllus, AR Denarius, 127 BC (Crawford, RSC, Sear), ca. 126 BCE (Mattingly, op. cit. at p. 258, Table 3), Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Roma right in winged helmet, star on helmet flap, ROMA upwards behind, * (XVI ligature, mark of value = 16 asses) below chin / Rev. Macedonian shield, decorated with elephant head in center wearing bell, M METELLVS Q F around beginning at 6:00, all within laurel wreath. Crawford 263/1(a), Sydenham 480, RSC I Caecilia 29, Russo RBW 1064, Sear RCV I 139 (ill.). 19.5 mm., 3.80 g., 9 hr.*

    M Caecilius Metullus Crawford 263 (Roma- Macedonian shield with elephant at center).jpg
    *The coin is classified as Crawford 263/1a because the obverse "ROMA" legend goes upwards; the ROMA on 263/1b goes downwards. The moneyer was Consul in 115 BCE. The reverse design of a Macedonian shield encircled by a laurel wreath honors the moneyer's father, Q. Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus, who defeated the Macedonian pretender Andriscus in 148 BCE. See Crawford p. 288, Sear p. 99. Sear calls the coin “an early example of a moneyer commemorating his family history” (id.), and Mattingly states that the moneyer “broke new ground by honoring a living father.” (See Harold B. Mattingly, “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in From Coins to History (2004), pp. 199-226 at p. 220 [emphasis in original].)

    The elephant head in the center of the shield, as with other coins of the Caecilii Metelli, recalls the victory of L. Caecilius Metellus, Cos. 251, over Hasdrubal at the Battle of Panormus in 250 BCE, and the capture of 100 of Hasdrubal’s elephants, which were paraded at Metullus’s triumph. See Crawford p. 288 (referencing the discussion on p. 287 of the symbolism of the elephant head on the reverse of Crawford 262); Mattingly p. 219 & n. 75.

    Roman Republic, M Fovri L.f. Philus, AR Denarius 119 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Janus, M•FOVRI•L•F around / Rev. Roma with Corinthian helmet standing left holding scepter, crowning trophy surmounted by helmet and flanked by carnyx and shield on each side, Gallic arms around; star above, ROMA to right, PHLI in exergue. RSC I Furia 18 (ill.), Crawford 281/1, Sydenham 529, Sear RCV I 156 (ill.), BMCRR Italy 555. 20.13 mm., 3.66 g. [According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 297), this reverse probably refers to "the defeat of the Allobroges and Arverni and the triumphs of 120."]

    Roman Republic Denarius 119 BCE - Fonteius Obv. Janus; Rev. Roma crowning trophy.jpg

    Roman Republic, C. Sulpicius C.f. Galba, AR Serrate Denarius, 106 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Jugate heads of Dei Penates left, D•P•P [Dei Penates Publici] beneath heads / Rev. Two soldiers facing each other, holding spears and pointing at sow lying down between them; S above; in exergue: C•SVL•ICI•C•F. [Indication of undertype on right of reverse, causing loss of detail.] RSC I Sulpicia 1, Crawford 312/1, Sydenham 572, BMCRR Rome 1324, Sear RCV I 189 (ill.) 18.12 mm., 3.83 g. [See Sear RCV I at p. 108: “Crawford’s interpretation of this interesting type seems the most convincing: it refers to Aeneas’ [landing at and founding of] Lavinium (home of the Sulpicia gens) with the Penates, and the subsequent miracle of the great white sow [giving birth to 30 piglets], which foretold the founding of Alba Longa,” where the soil was more fertile, 30 years later.] (Ex. Madroosi Collection [Joe Blazick]).

    Sulpicius Galba - Sow 2.jpg

    Roman Republic, Cn. Lentulus Clodianus Cornelia, AR Quinarius [half denarius], Rome 88 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Jupiter right / Rev. Victory standing right, crowning trophy; in exergue, CN•LENT. Crawford 345/2, RSC I Cornelia 51a (ill.), BMCRR 2443-2444, Sear RCV I 255 (ill.), Sydenham 703, RBW Collection 1313. 14x15 mm., 1.99 g.*

    COMBINED 2 Lentulus Quinarius.jpg

    *The moneyer was Consul in 72 BCE (when he was sent against Spartacus but his legions were defeated), and was later Censor in 70 BCE, and a legate with praetorian imperium under Pompey in 67 BCE. This coin was issued after the end of the Social War, to celebrate the Roman victory and/or to commemorate the “victories of M. Claudius M.f. M.n. Marcellus over Hannibal in the Second Punic War, which culminsted in the capture of Syracuse in B.C. 212.” See RSC I at p. 39.

    Roman Republic, A. Postumius A.f. Sp.n. Albinus (Aulus Postumius Albinus, son of Aulus [mint magistrate ca. 96 BCE], and grandson of Spurius [Consul 110 BCE]), AR Serrate Denarius, 81 BCE, Rome mint. Obv. Veiled head of Hispania right, with disheveled hair; HISPAN behind / Rev. Togate figure standing left, raising right hand towards legionary eagle to left; fasces with ax to right; A •/ ALBIN/ N • S [AL in monogram] across fields; POST • A • F in exergue. Crawford 372/2, RSC I Postumia 8 (ill.), Sydenham 746, Sear RCV I 297 (ill.), BMCRR Rome 2839-42, Harlan RRM I Ch. 1 at pp. 6-7 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)]. 19 mm., 3.92 g., 6 h. (Purchased from Brad Bowlin; Ex.“old French collection in Paris.” Double die-match to Die AB for type, RRDP, Schaefer Binder 5, p. 193-0; see*

    A. Postumius A.f. Sp.n. Albinus. 81 BC. AR Serrate Denarius.jpg

    * RSC I (p. 82), and BMCRR (p. 352 n. 1) agree that the coin may relate to the praetorship of the moneyer’s ancestor Lucius Postumius Albinus (Praetor 180 BCE) over Spain, his successful expeditions against the Vaccari and Lusitani, and the levying of troops for this campaign. Crawford concurs, stating (Vol. 1 at p. 389) that “the reverse, combining a togate figure on the one hand with an eagle and the fasces on the other, perhaps simply alludes to civilian and military imperium; taken with the obverse type, the reference is doubtless to the Spanish command of L. Postumius Albinus, Pr. 180.”

    Harlan also details the victories of Lucius Postumius Albinus in Further Spain, and his triumph in Rome in 178 BCE. RRM 1 at p. 7. However, Harlan also ties this coin to contemporary events, namely the fact that after Sulla’s victory over Marius, there remained one bastion of Marian resistance to Roman imperium, namely in Spain, where the governor, Sertorius, refused to obey the Senate, establishing an independent state and a refuge for the defeated Marians. Sulla sent an army against Sertorius in late 82 BCE, although the conflict continued at least until 80. Sertorius found his greatest support among the Lusitanians; hence the relevance (beyond the moneyer’s family history) of L. Postumius Albinus’s victories over the Lusitanians a century earlier. Id. at pp. 6-7. Thus, according to Harlan, the “unnamed togate magistrate flanked by the fasces and the legionary eagle is a symbol of Roman imperium. Postumius’ coin shows that Spain, represented by Hispania on the obverse, must also recognize Roman imperium and embrace Rome as the head of things just as Italy had done. Id. at p. 7. (See this moneyer’s other coin, Crawford 372/1, and its theme of Rome as caput rerum for Italy. RRM I Ch. 1 at pp. 1-6.)

    Roman Republic, A. Postumius A.f. Sp.n. Albinus (Aulus Postumius Albinus, son of Aulus [mint magistrate ca. 96 BCE], and grandson of Spurius [Consul 110 BCE]), AR Serrate Denarius, 81 BCE. Obv. Draped bust of Diana right, with bow and quiver over shoulder, figure of stag’s head at end of bow (horns to left), bucranium above [off flan] / Rev. Roman priest standing facing on rocky ground (on Aventine Hill), head left, with right arm extended holding aspergillum, sprinkling heifer [Harlan, RRM I*], bull [Crawford & Sear], or ox [RSC] which he is about to sacrifice, a lighted altar between them, A POST - AF - SN • ALBIN [AL in monogram] around. RSC I Postumia 7, Crawford 372/1, Sydenham 745, Sear RCV I 296 (ill.), Harlan, RRM I Ch. 1 at pp. 1-7, BMCRR 2836. 18.54 mm., 3.85 g. Ex. Spink & Sons Ltd. (before 2000 because of address on Spink coin tag; probably before 1974 given citation to Sydenham but not Crawford.) SB Binder 5 RRC 372/1 (173, 184, 188, 189, 192)

    Postumius (Diana-Sacrifice of Heifer) COMBINED 2.jpg

    * See Michael Harlan, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012) (“RRM I”) (using this coin-type as the cover illustration for his book). At pp. 3-4, Harlan argues that in the legend which, as Crawford acknowledges, is the basis for the reverse of this coin -- namely, the sacrifice to Diana on the Aventine Hill founding her temple there ca. 500 BCE, establishing Rome as the caput rerum for all of Italy [and symbolizing the victory of Sulla over the rebel Italians in 82 BCE] -- the sacrificed animal was a heifer with wondrous horns, not a bull or an ox. (Citing Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, ch. 45 [available at].)

    Roman Republic, Mn. Aquillius Mn.f. Mn.n. [Manius Aquillius, son of Manius and grandson of Manius], AR Serrate Denarius, 71 BCE [Harlan: 67 BCE], Rome Mint. Obv. Helmeted and draped bust of Virtus right; III VIR downwards behind, VIRTVS upwards in front / Rev. Manius Aquillius [the moneyer’s grandfather, Consul 101 BCE] standing facing, head right, bearing shield on his left side, raising with his right hand a prostrate Sicilia [personification of Sicily], kneeling left at his feet; MN. AQVIL. upwards to right, MN. F. MN. N. [each MN in monogram] downwards to left; SICIL in exergue. Crawford 401/1, RSC I Aquillia 2 (ill.), Sear RCV I 336 (ill.), Sydenham 798, Harlan RRM I Ch. 31, pp. 183-188 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)]. 18x20 mm., 3.76 g.*

    Mn Aquillius (Virtus-Sicilia) jpg version.jpg

    *See Sear RCV I at p. 135, noting that this coin has the “first appearance on the coinage of the triumviral title of a moneyer (III VIR = tresvir).” This is also one of only two Republican coins to depict Virtus on the obverse. The reverse design on the coin commemorates the moneyer’s grandfather, Manius Aquillius (identified in the legend), and his successful suppression in 101 BCE of a slave revolt in Sicily that had begun in 104 BCE. Sicily is portrayed as an under-nourished, helpless girl shielded and uplifted by Mn Aquillius and the military might of Rome. See Harlan at pp. 183-188. Harlan notes that although the moneyer’s grandfather was awarded an ovation in 100 BCE after his victory (a lesser form of triumph, awarded for defeating slaves, pirates, etc.), he was later charged with having engaged in extortion and bribe-taking in Sicily (although he was acquitted because of his bravery in the war), and ultimately, while serving as ambassador on a mission to Asia, was defeated and captured by Mithridates VI of Pontus, who ordered his execution in 88 BCE by the method of having molten gold poured down his throat. In issuing this coin, the moneyer obviously chose to focus on his grandfather’s earlier successes in Sicily rather than his unfortunate end, perhaps (according to Harlan) trying to equate his grandfather’s successes with the recent suppression of the Spartacus slave revolt -- ironically enough by Crassus, given his supposed execution by the Parthians after Carrhae by exactly the same method.

    And one Imperial coin celebrating victory over Dacia:

    Trajan AR Denarius, 106 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate bust right; IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TRP COS V P P / Rev. Captive Dacian in peaked cap with wide brim, seated right on shield in mournful attitude with left elbow on raised left knee, and face resting in left hand; below, curved Dacian sword (falx) right; SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI. RIC II 219 (; RSC II 529; Sear RCV II 3168 (obv. var.); BMCRE 175 ( 17 mm., 3.02 g., 6 h.

    Trajan-Dacian in mourning jpg version.jpg

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  9. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    That makes sense.

    Yeah from what I’ve read Romulus and the kings have been called “legendary” and there seems to be zero actual proof that they existed.

    But I think for sure that they were based upon real people and then later had a mythology built around them.

    I do believe that there was a man who had a twin brother and played a large role in founding Rome.

    Now were they descended from Aeneas, suckled by wolves, and all that like Romulus?

    Doubtful. But I believe there is a kernel of truth in the stories and that Romulus and other Roman kings were based on real people who played a large role in the founding of Rome and it’s earliest days.
  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Faustina having a baby may not be that historically interesting, but it was a big deal for her and her family.

    Faustina Jr FECVND AVGVSTAE S C Sestertius.jpg
  11. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Which Faustina is that?

    Is it the mother of Commodus & Lucilla and the baby on the reverse is one of them?

    Or is it the grandmother of Commodus and wife of Antoninus Pius?
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  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    It is Faustina the Younger. Commodus had not yet been born but Lucilla is the oldest of them. The others are Faustina III, Fadilla and Cornificia.
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  13. I'd say it's historically interesting because that activity resulted in the first biological offspring to inherit the purple in the Nerva-Antonine dynasty, and we all know how that went!
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  14. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    I’ve heard that Lucilla was super beautiful. I wonder what she looked like. I know the Romans had a different beauty standard than today so I’m curious if she looked similar to the “original” Roman beauty Lucretia (seen below in portrait of the rape of Lucretia that led to the end of the Roman Kingdom).

  15. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    We have a decent idea of what Lucilla looked like. As Augusta, she appears on coins and statues. Because she was born in 149, she's a teenager on all her coins because they were all issued in the 160s.

    [​IMG] Lucilla, AD 161-182.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.10 g, 30.7 mm, 1 h.
    Rome, AD 163-164.
    Obv: LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, bust of Lucilla, draped, right.
    Rev: IVNONI LVCINAE S C, Juno, seated left on throne, holding flower on extended right hand and swaddled infant in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 1747; BMCRE 1154-1160; Cohen 37; RCV 5504; MIR 9.

    Lucilla statue.jpg
    Roman marble head of Lucilla, 2nd century CE. Museo Archeologico Ostiense, Rome.

    Lucilla, AD 164-169.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 25.14 g, 31.6 mm, 4 h.
    Rome, AD 164-166.
    Obv: LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: PIETAS S C, Pietas standing left beside altar.
    Refs: RIC 1756; BMCRE 1161-65; Cohen 72; RCV 5505; MIR 16.

    Lucilla Bardo.jpg
    Statue of Lucilla, depicted as the goddess Ceres. AD 150- 200. Musée national du Bardo, Tunis.
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  16. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    How come the statues make it look like she’s totally stoned? Pun intended!
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  17. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

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  18. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    In season 1 of the Netflix documentary “Roman Empire” which is about Commodus’s reign they have her looking like this xD
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  19. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    One of these days I WILL own a coin depicting Romulus & Remus being suckled by the she-wolf.

    I’d like it to be a silver coin though preferably.
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  20. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    They think that looks like this?

    Lucilla Vesta As altar.jpg

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  21. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    I actually found a bronze one in an uncleaned coin lot.
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